It seems that innovation is everything to director Rick Dugdale. In May 2020, while many people were still learning to bake sourdough, Dugdale started recording the techno thriller “Zero Contact” via Zoom. Last year, the director released the film, a modestly entertaining film, as a non-replaceable token, or NFT. In “Zero Contact”, Anthony Hopkins stars as Finley Hart, an enigmatic engineer and genius whose death is mentioned in the opening credits. Hart leaves hours of recorded video logs full of tortuous, seemingly semi-improvised monologues, which give the impression that his tongue can’t keep up with his brain.
While Hart was alive, he spent decades developing teleportation technology. Bad things will happen if the machine he left behind implodes. The conceit is to allow this familiar ticking time bomb plot to take place on computer screens. An unseen spy watches Hart’s estranged son (Chris Brochu) and feisty former employees panic during an emergency virtual meeting, tapping their cell phones and security cameras. The image stutters every few seconds, apparently for added realism.
Hopkins’ character is a routine riff on the aloof tycoon. “I lost touch with my humanity,” he jokes, “boohoo.”
It’s a vicarious pleasure to watch Hopkins, the octogenarian actor, master the technology that allows him to film himself without the usual floating crew. Indeed, the behind-the-scenes footage that plays over the film’s credits is just as captivating as the plot. “Who’s that on the left?” asks Hopkins, pointing to a corner of his video call frame. Told it’s screenwriter Cam Cannon, Hopkins beams. “Hey, I’m sorry,” he says, “I hope I didn’t take too much liberty with your writing!”
Rated R for a creepy moment of violence. Running time: 1 hour 37 minutes. In theaters and for rent or sale on Apple TV, Google Play and other streaming platforms and pay TV providers.